Report by Robert M and Bethan F:
On Saturday 8 March, 150 musicians gathered at The Croft School for our annual Orchestral Afternoon. There was a wide range of ages and instruments including a harp, five double basses, twenty-one cellos, twenty percussionists and an amazing clarinet soloist from Birmingham Conservatoire!
Each section of the orchestra headed off to its own area after unpacking and tuning. The Strings went to Mundell Court with Mrs Crane (it was a tight squeeze!); the Wind and Brass went to the Theatre with Mr Shortman and the Percussionists were based in the Music Room. This was brilliant, as each section had their own rehearsal time with the clarinet soloist.
Afterwards, we went to the Theatre to rehearse our orchestral pieces. We were very fortunate to have an amazingly skilful clarinettist, called Michael Webb, to be the soloist in our concerto. He came from Birmingham Conservatoire and has been studying the clarinet there for four years. After some rehearsing we had a break and enjoyed some biscuits and a bottle of water. We then went back to the Theatre to do some more rehearsing for the concerto.
Later on, we went to the Dining Room to have a hot dog, crisps and a cookie which everybody enjoyed. We then went outside for some fresh air, as the parents and friends gathered in the Theatre ready for the concert. When the bell rang, we headed back into the Theatre to perform. The parents were all sitting down ready for us, so we began the concert. The String Ensemble started with two American folk songs: 'Skip to my Lou' and 'Susannah and Liza meet Polly at the Races'. They were then followed by the Wind Band playing 'Tijuana Taxi' and 'Soul Bossa Nova'. The last of our smaller groups were the Percussion Ensemble performing 'Boom, Snap, Clap' which was an amazing, rhythmical piece using body percussion. Finally, we played as an Orchestra. We all started with 'Marche pour la Ceremonie des Turcs' – Mr Shortman conducted it in the way the composer, Jean Baptiste Lully, would have done, which was using a big stick! We then moved onto the Clarinet Concerto. This had three movements (sections) and was quite a marathon to play through! The Orchestra concentrated really hard and worked together to accompany Michael Webb's amazing solo clarinet playing. Mr Shortman asked the audience to wait and clap only at the end of all three movements; when we got to the end we had a huge round of applause!
We all had a great afternoon of music-making and loved having the chance to accompany such a great clarinettist. We are sure it was a day we will never forget.